Earlier last week, Western Kentucky inside linebacker Andrew Jackson was asked to reflect on the Toppers' 2012 victory over upcoming opponent Kentucky.
Was the win from the previous season meaningless at this point?
"Yeah, it really is irrelevant because they got a new coach that’s gonna try to come around and trick yah and four-wide stuff," Jackson said. "Try to trick us up.
"But we’re just gonna hit ‘em in the mouth and get it over with."
And that's exactly what Jackson did.
The Toppers' defeated the Cats 35-26 at LP Field on Saturday night, ending their series with Kentucky for the foreseeable future on a two-game winning streak.
After taking a year off following his controversial dismissal from Arkansas, new WKU head coach Bobby Petrino was questioned in the postgame about his emotions following the victory.
He smiled and shrugged his shoulders, displaying the body language of someone about to make a guilty confession.
But this admission was nothing to be ashamed about.
"Well, they're all good--I love winning," he said. "This is a great win for us.
"It's not about me, it's about our players and our assistant coaches, and how much they work and how much they invested into this game and this team."
WKU grabbed the lead with a touchdown on their first possession, a beautifully scripted 75-yard drive over nine plays, giving them a lead they would never relinquish the rest of the night.
In fact, the Toppers drove 75 yards or more on three of their first four drives of the game, a start that was vital for WKU's confidence behind new starting quarterback Brandon Doughty.
"I think going into the game, all our players felt like we'd run the ball well and do that," Petrino said. "But we were inexperienced at quarterback, young at wide receiver, so I think the execution of the passing game early in the game really gave everyone confidence, everyone rallied around Brandon."
"Our players did a really nice job in camp of working hard, staying together and going through the long, hard practices we had."
"Our assistant coaches had a great game plan, and did a nice job during the game on the sideline, kept teaching and we kept getting better as the game went on."
While he's with a different team now, beating Kentucky to open the season was nothing new for Petrino, who improved to 5-0 all-time against the Cats in season openers dating back to his previous coaching position at Louisville.
Senior running back Antonio Andrews finished the night with 194 all-purpose yards and a touchdown, marking the eighth-straight game Andrews has eclipsed 150 all-purpose yards.
The Kentucky native has 14-straight games with at least 100 all-purpose yards.
Fellow senior running back Keshawn Simpson finished with two rushing touchdowns, and sophomore Leon Allen gained 92 yards on only 10 carries (a 9.2 yards-per-carry average,) adding a touchdown of his own.
"We got the 'W'," Andrews said. "It wasn't one of my best games, but it was great being able to see Keshawn (Simpson) and Leon (Allen) step up."
Doughty finished 27-for-34 passing, throwing for 271 total yards and a touchdown.
"It was a blessing," the quarterback said of his performance. "I felt so comfortable out there tonight.
"I just told myself I was going to put everything on the Lord, he helped me out throughout this game."
Transitioning from previous Topper' head coach Willie Taggart's offense to Petrino's was a daunting task for the junior pass-thrower, but he couldn't contain his excitement on playing for the experienced Petrino and his offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm.
"It's unbelievable, the things and the knowledge that he (Petrino) knows," Doughty said. "Just absolutely crazy.
"He'll come to the sideline and he'll be like 'hey man, they (the defense) are gonna be in this, throw to this guy he'll be open, I promise.' So you know, it's an unbelievable experience, to see the work live."
WKU's defense was led by Jackson (8 tackles) and fellow senior linebacker Xavius Boyd (10).
The Toppers' will now prepare to head to Knoxville in Week 2, to take on the Tennessee Volunteers in historic Neyland Stadium.
"Well, we're starting the season off undefeated in the SEC," Andrews said. "We got another tough opponent next week in Tennessee, so we're hoping to go 2-0."
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